Social Problems Caused by Undercover Marketing and Social Media Traces in Japan

Makoto Sakai


According to Sigmund Freud’s thesis “The Ego and the Id,” it is difficult for humans to control our desires consciously, but it is easy for us to be influenced by other people’s desires unconsciously(Freud 1990). For example, to take on other people’s desires is similar to adjusting to an established order or to sharing a sense of community. Therefore, successful advertisements or recommendations must imply popularity. However, if advertisements and others’ recommendations somehow lose their credibility, how does our desire unconsciously change? Undercover marketing has recently become popular on Japanese websites. To take just three examples from 2012, a celebrity made a pseudo-advertisement blog; the most famous restaurant ranking site was found to have manipulated its rankings; and the most famous cosmetics distribution site hired people for working to artificially raise evaluation scores. Simultaneously, social media has begun gathering large amounts of personal data to use for undercover marketing. In this thesis, I compare undercover marketing in Japan today with a similar phenomenon from the classical marketing history of Japan, called Sakura, a doughnutter, or faking. Then I discuss how this new type of undercover marketing creates new human rights problems, such as regarding protecting personal information and the right to be forgotten on websites. I conclude that undercover marketing online represents a change in the unconscious world order that the modern economic system has built up over time.

DOI: 10.5901/ajis.2013.v2n3p319

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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)

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